Regardless of the camera system that each of us may own, it is always fun and insightful to do some experimentation with one’s gear. Since buying my Nikon 1 V3s I’ve been using them almost exclusively to capture images of birds. As a test I did some Nikon 1 V3 bee photography, using some extension tubes and a selection of 5 different lenses.
To give readers a good idea on the relative magnification between various combinations of lenses and extension tubes all of the photographs in this article are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I started out using a 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom lens along with a 21mm extension tube. I’ve always enjoyed using this particular lens as it gives me a nice balance between size/weight, and a nice range of focal length adjustments when doing close-up photography.
The bees in my backyard were quite active so I had plenty of subjects from which to choose. The 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 did its usual, good job with this type of subject matter.
After shooting for a while, I decided to change lenses and swapped out the 30-110mm for the 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 non-PD zoom. I kept the 21mm extension tube installed. The lens proved to be a competent performer for this application, although not quite as sharp as the 30-110mm.
Since the minimum focusing distance of the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 is quite a bit shorter than the 30-110mm, I ended up shooting with the lens fully extended to 100mm.
This necessitated a slight change in my technique as I needed to move my camera towards my subject, then fire without adjusting focal length. When using the 30-110mm I move my camera in, adjust focal length to acquire initial focus, then use single AF to grab final focus.
After shooting with the 10-100mm non-PD for a while I decided to change lenses once again. This time I went with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom, keeping the 21mm extension tube in place.
As could be expected the quality of the optics in the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm was apparent in the images.
While it was more difficult to get in really close to subject bees given the 70mm minimum focal length, the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm is a very capable performer for this type of photography.
The 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 provides the most overall shooting latitude in terms of subject distance from the camera. This lens would be the best choice when shooting in flower beds that are deeper and when subjects are a bit more distant.
My test then switched over to the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 prime. I recently used this lens for some close up flower images with the aid of a 10mm extension tube, and I was eager to give it a try photographing bees.
I quite liked using the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 for this type of photography, although one must be comfortable getting one’s hands in very close to subject bees…about 6″ (15.24cm) away.
The sharpness of this lens is also very apparent in the images and I will be using this lens for close-up photography on a regular basis in the future.
I ended my bee photography test with the 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom. I kept the 10mm extension tube in place and shot the 10-30mm at the long end of the zoom so I could compare image quality against the 32mm f/1.2.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom and ended up being pleasantly surprised. The lens proved to be a competent performer when using a 10mm extension tube.
As with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 your hands will be in very close to your subject bees when using this lens. This did not prove to be an issue for me at all with bees. I’m not sure I’d be as comfortable using the 10-30mm PD or 32mm f/1.2 prime when photographing more aggressive insects like wasps.
Overall I really enjoyed doing this bee photography test. If you want to extend the shooting capability of your interchangeable lens camera kit, adding some extension tubes for close-up photography can be a solid investment as they can be used with a range of different lenses.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held in available light. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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